Tag Archives: Prop. 1A

Facts Are Stupid Things

Virtually the entire political leadership in Sacramento took without questioning the view that the overwhelming loss of the special election is somehow a mandate for “living within our means” and deep, drastic cuts to the budget.  The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times (in multiple venues) and most other publications provided uncritical coverage of the Governor and even leading Democrats, parroting this theory that “the voters spoke” and the message was that only cuts would be allowable from this point forward.

Beware of any sentence that starts with the words “What the voters told us was…”  Far too often in our politics, dishonest lawmakers decide that voters mandate their particular ideologies and preferred policy decisions regardless of the facts.  Perhaps the only real message delivered from the voters to lawmakers was that the former doesn’t particularly like or trust the latter.  But there are other possibilities.  A new polling memo by David Binder Research details why Prop. 1A in particular failed, and the results do not match the Governor’s ramblings.

Contrary to what the Governor is saying after the defeat of his proposals, Prop 1A did not fail because voters delivered a message to “go all out” in cutting government spending. The all-time record low turnout for a statewide special election clearly demonstrates the lack of depth to that argument. Prop 1A did not

generate a spike in turnout and taxes were not cited as the main reason why voters overwhelmingly rejected Prop 1A.  Support for a state budget that relies solely on spending cuts is very limited – even among those voting no on Prop 1a.  

Voters in this election were more likely to be Republicans and less likely to be Independents, whereas Democratic voters came out in proportions consistent with past turnout. Of those that voted in this election, 43% were Democrats, 42% were Republicans and 15% were Independents or minor party voters. This past November, the electorate consisted of 46% Democrats, 32% Republicans and 22% Independents or minor party voters.  

In November 2010, the electorate will be a group that is more supportive of the revenue options tested in the survey, and more strongly opposed to only using cuts to balance the state budget. While only 36% of voters that turned out for the May 19th election supported using entirely budget cuts to balance the budget, even fewer – only 24% — of non-voters felt the same way […]

Voters simply do not trust the leadership in Sacramento, and recognize that the failed special election was just another example of the inability to bring real solutions to voters. When given two choices, four out of five voters – even among those who voted ‘Yes’ on 1A – agreed that the special election was just another example of the failure of the Governor and Legislature, who should make the hard decisions necessary to really fix the budget. Only 20% agreed the special election was a sincere effort to fix the state’s budget mess.

I would argue that the voters feel no trust in the legislature because they see time and again policy solutions that stick the average Californian with the bill that the wealthy and well-connected don’t pay.  The fact that the only permanent tax issue in the February budget was a $1 billion dollar tax cut for the largest corporations in America is a perfect example.

The polling memo also shows broad support for tax increases in a variety of areas, including wiping out this massive corporate tax cut:

75% support increasing taxes on alcoholic beverages (62% support among ‘No’ voters)

74% support increasing taxes on tobacco (62% support among ‘No’ voters)

73% support imposing an oil extraction tax on oil companies just like every other oil producing

state (60% support among ‘No’ voters)

63% support closing the loophole that allows corporations to avoid reassessment of the value of

new property they purchase (58% support among ‘No’ voters)

63% support increasing the top bracket of the state income tax from nine point three percent to

10 percent for families with taxable income over $272,000 a year and to eleven percent for

families with taxable incomes over $544,000 a year (51% support among ‘No’ voters)

59% support prohibiting corporations from using tax credits to offset more than fifty percent of the

taxes they owe (55% support among ‘No’ voters)

In addition, voters oppose the kind of spending cuts outlined by the Governor.

Now, I’m sure I’ll hear “eat it, you pipe dream librul hippie” because of the structural issues that prohibit these kind of tax solutions.  But the reason that the legislature has such desperately low esteem right now is that they fail to publicly even advocate for the solutions Californians plainly want, or the breakage of the structural barriers that would provide it.  This failure caused the May 19 debacle and will cause further problems for the Democrats in the state if they are not careful.  A political party seen as devoid of principle will not be a successful political party forever.  What Californians desire, essentially, is leadership.  And they will punish those who refuse to give it to them.

UPDATE by Brian: I’ve posted the slides for the Binder Research presentation over the flip.

Why Prop 1A Lost Powerpoint

Schwarzenegger’s Slip Shows

As the special election swirls the bowl, I think one of the enduring memories I will have is the late-campaign decision on the part of the Governor to ignore the current budget deficit.  That’s right, ignore.

In the final sprint to Tuesday’s election, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has warned day after day of teacher layoffs, fire-station shutdowns and other dire consequences if voters fail to pass budget measures that would produce almost $6 billion to ease California’s fiscal crisis.

Yet Schwarzenegger and his allies have abandoned TV advertising — the main vehicle for reaching voters statewide — on the three measures that would generate that money: Propositions 1C, 1D and 1E.

Instead, they are running TV ads solely for Propositions 1A and 1B, measures that would do nothing to slow California’s slide toward insolvency this summer, but in future years could help the budget’s bottom line and Schwarzenegger’s political image.

It’s really all you need to know about this special election – at a time when the Governor is flailing madly, casting about for things to sell like someone rummaging through his things for a garage sale, and threatening all sorts of cuts and mass prisoner release and 100 other options for closing the current budget gap, his campaign committee pushes the only measure on the ballot that would do NOTHING to close the current budget gap.  He just wants his long-sought spending cap and unilateral executive authority to make budget cuts.  It’s all, as said above, about image.

Prop 1A: Boxer Endorses, No Side Releases TV Ad

Barbara Boxer made it pretty clear in a news conference at the California Democratic Party convention that she and Dianne Feinstein would be studying the ballot measures and offering a joint statement on them in the near future.  As it turns out, with a week to go, she broke with DiFi, who has made no public pronouncement, and quietly endorsed Props. 1A and 1B yesterday.

“California’s budget process is broken,” Boxer announced. “It’s time for California to join the vast majority of states and reform the two-thirds requirement for adopting the budget.

“However, until we make this crucial reform, I will be supporting Propositions 1A and 1B on the May 19 ballot. These two measures will help get California back on track, while protecting our investment in education.”

I heard that Arnold Schwarzenegger misspelled “track” in the initial release for Boxer, and she had to re-release it.

The relative lack of fanfare around this announcement, and Boxer’s unwillingness to make her opinion clear on any of the other measures, suggests that Boxer just wanted to fulfill her obligation to say something in the most silent way possible.  She doesn’t want to back the whole loser of the ballot and doesn’t want to impinge upon her Democratic colleagues in the legislature who put together the deal.  That’s about it.

UPDATE: Now DiFi has come out in favor of 1A & 1B as well, while specifically rejecting Prop. 1C and calling for “a budgeting system that works effectively and efficiently in times of budget crisis.”  If this was the case all along, and the endorsements came out within 24 hours of each other, why wouldn’t they have put out the statement at the same time?  Good to know our Senators work so effectively together.

Meanwhile, No on 1A released a TV ad for the final week, and I’m a bit baffled by its middle-ground focus on “porkbarrel spending” that may result from the way the spending cap and reserve fund are structured.  It’s true that money in the reserve fund could only be used for one-time spending like infrastructure and debt service, and that does significantly change the model for how the state gets funded, with ongoing services getting sucked dry.  I don’t know if I would characterize that as “pork-barrel” spending, necessarily.  In addition, the loss of revenues in recurring services like health care and education, not the supposed pork barrel spending, concerns me far more.  The ad does hit the fact that 1A won’t kick in on the revenue side for two years, so framing it as a response to the current crisis strains credulity.  The larger frame here is of Prop. 1A as a complex proposal full of loopholes that will not meet its intended goals.

CFT Sues Arnold For Education Funding Under Prop. 98

At last count, the California Teachers Association has dumped $10 million dollars or so into a FAIL whale of a special election, so they could secure their out-of-court settlement for $9.3 billion dollars in education money.  It’s important to understand what that money at stake in Prop. 1B represents.  It’s OWED to the schools.  Not a gift, not a reward for good behavior, but owed.  Under Prop. 98, the state must provide a minimum level of baseline funding to education, based on an algorithm that can be calculated in a number of ways.  This Governor has consistently tried to under-calculate Prop. 98, and most recently, his Administration determined it in such a way that shortchanged the schools by $9.3 billion dollars.  The education community could have demanded payment under statutory law, but instead the CTA decided to enter into what ultimately appears to be a failed bargain, whereby schools would receive money down the road from Prop. 1B if Prop. 1A, the funding mechanism for those payments, passed.  The California Federation of Teachers, which unlike CTA has opposed Prop. 1A, yesterday did what would have been much cheaper for CTA to do, which is sue the state for the money owed the schools.

“Proposition 1B is going to fail, and besides that, we still have to worry about funding for 2009-10,” said Marty Hittelman, CFT president. “We need to do this right away so we can take care of 2009-10, since they’re already debating that. We want to make sure they understand they have to repay us.”

After revenues sharply declined, the state cut 2008-09 school funding by $7.9 billion, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger believed the state did not legally owe that money back to education. School groups disagreed and threatened to sue the state before Schwarzenegger and lawmakers put Propositions 1A and 1B on the ballot to repay that money, plus another $1.3 billion owed from 2007-08.

CFT also wants the courts to resolve for good whether the state owes schools money in similar budget situations in the future.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has simply been untrustworthy when it comes to education, and has repeatedly broken the law when it comes to funding.  You don’t bargain with that, you fight it.  Eventually, CFT and SEIU Local 99, also on the lawsuit, will win in court.  And by the way, they’ll end up getting the money faster than under Prop. 1B, which doesn’t pay out until 2011-12.  Not to mention that Prop. 1B is, you know, losing.

Budget Reform Now Becomes Budget Reform Later

The Budget Reform Now folks, on the heels of one ad narrowing their focus to Props. 1A & 1B, have released yet another, basically with the same script only substituting a teacher for the firefighter, warning of $16 billion in cuts if 1A & 1B fail to pass.  1A & 1B do NOTHING in the current budget year or the next.  Nothing at all.  Arnold Schwarzenegger and his cadres are exploiting a crisis with fearmongering tactics to gain a spending cap they can use to ratchet down state services forever.

This is very simple.  If 1A’s spending cap would immediately limit state services $16 billion dollars below the baseline funding needed to provide services at the current level, then $16 billion in services aren’t at risk with the failure of 1A.  They’re at risk with passage.  And that risk would be permanent, and would increase every year, well and above the two year extension of tax increases.

Arnold obviously doesn’t give a damn about the current budget gap.  Heck, he probably enjoys it; he can use his new furlough tools and threaten to set the state on fire and a host of other right-wing options.  The golden goose for him and his rich supporters is the spending cap.  And those Democrats who enable him in this effort ought to understand what they’re supporting – a permanent reduction in services for the state’s most vulnerable citizens.  “What’s your solution,” is the phrase thrown around at us.  The problem is we know theirs.

UPDATE: The latest brilliant idea from the Governor: raid local governments if the Props fail, a direct contradiction of his deal with cities to stop raiding their budgets five years ago.  Under yet another Prop. 1A from 2004, the state can borrow 8% of property tax revenues (about $2 billion), which would have to be repaid with interest in three years.  The credit cards are open for business again!  While this measure represents 10-15% of the total projected budget gap, it would decimate services at the city and county level, services that – voila! – the state would need to step in to provide.  Also the Governor cannot pull this off unilaterally: it would require a 2/3 vote of the legislature.

Roger Niello’s Blackmailing Of SEIU

Roger Niello has found a use for the special election – to deny the SEIU a contract they bargained in good faith with the Governor.  Enough Yacht Party members joined him to delay the deal.

A local Republican on Monday helped defeat an Assembly bill that must be passed to enshrine the new contract the Schwarzenegger administration signed this year with its largest state workers’ union.

Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, urged legislators to oppose or abstain from voting on AB 964, saying it was “awfully inappropriate” to vote right now on the agreement with the Service Employees International Union, Local 1000.

Niello said legislators should wait at least until May 19, when Californians vote in a special election on six propositions to shrink the budget gap.

“We should not pre-empt the voters by dealing with this issue today (Monday),” Niello told the Assembly. “It can wait until June or after.”

Of course, voters have no say in government labor contracts; they appear nowhere on the May 19 ballot.  But Andrew McIntosh explains what’s really going on here, something the Sacramento Bee saw fit to put on their website but not in their print edition.

Niello appears to be using Republican clout to offer the governor some leverage – holding out on the contract approval as long as possible so that the SEIU doesn’t mount a major attack-ad campaign on propositions he favors, such as 1A.

That proposition would give the governor new power to unilaterally make mid-year cuts in spending to some programs and extend certain tax increases by two years.

That’s hardly speculative.  Niello voted for the budget and supports the ballot measures that resulted from them.  He knows that SEIU has already dropped $500,000 into defeating Prop. 1A, the long-sought spending cap, and has decided to use the leverage of the contract vote to blackmail SEIU into keeping quiet.  Even Republicans who don’t support the special election have no problem taking time out of their busy day to shit on workers, so they are happy do the Governor’s bidding, hoping that, in the aftermath, they can knuckle the union down for more concessions should the measures fail.  Which would be absurd – the Governor made a deal, which includes major concessions from the union, separate from the passage or failure of any ballot measure.

No surprise, by the way, that the Bee doesn’t go into this level of detail in their print edition – the editorial board basically threatened SEIU in exactly the same way as Niello a week or so ago, arguing that the passage of their contract should be tied to Prop. 1A’s passage.  And they have the audacity to call out the SEIU for duplicity, while rooting on legislative blackmail because SEIU’s parent organization disagrees with the editorial opinion of the Bee on how to best serve the long-term interests of the state.  And this shows in them leaving the underlying reasons for legislative deals out of their news articles.

Taking The Exact Wrong Advice

Last week, Robert Cruickshank offered the special election advocates some pretty good advice – focus on Prop. 1C, which covers 83% of the short-term budget hole that can be gained from the passage of the ballot measures, because the state party approved it, because it’s the only measure that matters in the near term, and because they need to focus their energies, since very little good is likely to come of the election at this point.  Of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger controls the Budget Reform Now Campaign.  And he has shown himself to be completely indifferent to the short-term needs of the state in favor of writing a long-term, right-wing spending cap into the state Constitution.  Because instead of abandoning all the other measures in favor of 1C, Budget Reform Now has jettisoned everything in favor of 1A & 1B.  I saw this ad a couple days ago, out of nowhere, and Budget Reform Now dropped it without a press release.  The ad tries to use the 2005 special election imagery which killed Arnold’s Prop. 76 (substantially the same proposal) in favor of this spending cap, with the firefighter warning of “$16 billion in cuts” without bothering to mention that those “cuts,” really lost revenues, would be two years off.  And the new “Yes on 1A and 1B” logo makes an appearance.

I think we can finally figure out what Arnold Schwarzenegger wants from this election.  He could care less about the $6 billion in short-term budget solutions – but his corporate partners want that spending cap, and his new pals in the CTA want their out-of-court settlement locked in (it would’ve cost them less just to take the Governor to court for falsely calculating Prop. 98 revenues, with more of a chance of winning).  So all this talk about how we have to vote Yes or the budget hole will grow deeper was a ruse.  The Governor clearly supports the deeper budget deficit, or at least he could give a crap with coming up with a solution.  He and his Chamber of Commerce puppet masters want that cap.  They have wanted it for four years.  Anyone lining up with these interests should understand what they really support.  Good job, Democratic leadership.

Those Tied Hands Loosen Somewhat For Corporate Cash

I spoke at yet another Democratic Club meeting on the May 19 propositions yesterday, against yet another member of the California Legislature, Julia Brownley (who I really like and respect).  One thing I sought to make clear to everyone is that we are going back to the drawing board on May 20 no matter what happens on May 19.  The Legislative Analyst already finds the February budget deal to be $8 billion dollars out of balance, and April tx receipts came up $1.8 billion dollars short of the budget projection.  Some of us recognize that this means alternative solutions must be gathered right now, because Democratic legislators will be stuck in the chamber with the Yacht Party on May 20 regardless.

I was heartened to hear Assmeblywoman Brownley note that a majority vote fee increase will probably be part of the solution.  When the Legislature passed this in December, they raised more money than would be sacrificed if Props. 1C, 1D and 1E failed.  An argument could be made that the majority vote fee increase combined with the passage of those props would obviate the need for almost any cuts.  I think that’s faulty reasoning, since 1D and 1E ARE cuts, to vital services that will cost the state more money in the long run.  As for 1C I find it completely unworkable and just a borrowing gimmick.

I do have to say that it would be much easier to swallow this posturing from the ballot measure supporters that they would have no choice but massive cuts on May 20 if everything failed, if they didn’t enable massive permanent corporate tax cuts in the last budget deal…

Corporate tax attorneys are chuckling over the absurd deal in the last agreement that lets multistate and multinational taxpayers decide, each year, how much income they want to report to California. Because this was negotiated in private, with no hearings and no independent expertise brought to bear, the result is a giveaway and a national embarrassment, in a state that had prided itself on a fair, successful corporation tax.

Here’s how it works. Each state typically figures out what percentage of a large company’s business is done in the state, and then taxes that percentage of income. Historically, if 10% of a multistate company’s payroll, property and sales are located in the state, then 10% of its nationwide or worldwide income is subject to tax. In the budget deal, California changed the formula to allow companies to choose to make that percentage based only on sales in California.

…and if they didn’t protect the very corporate interests who are now bankrolling their ballot measures:

The entire architecture of the ballot pact that emerged was heavily shaped by leaders’ desire to please – or at least neutralize – the state’s most powerful political players.

Now, some of those very interest groups protected in the budget deal are bankrolling the campaign to ratify it.

For the oil industry, the package omits a once-proposed 9.9 percent oil severance tax. Energy companies have given more than a million dollars to pass the plan, led by a $500,000 donation from Chevron.

For the liquor, beer and wine industry, increased alcohol taxes were shelved. Alcohol industry heavyweights, such as E. & J. Gallo Winery ($100,000) and California’s Beer and Beverage Distributors ($50,000), have all opened their checkbooks.

For the teachers union, the list of ballot measures includes a separate measure to ensure repayment of deep cuts to schools and protections for top-priority programs. The California Teachers Association has contributed $7 million to the passage of Propositions 1A and 1B.

For casino-operating Indian tribes, the state lottery measure avoids any new games that could threaten their gambling operations. Tribes, who could have been major contributors against the lottery proposition, have kept their checkbooks closed.

In the last budget deal, all the industry-specific taxes, all the service-based taxes that wouldn’t be so regressive, faded away, and the same groups protected by that fade (including practically every sports team, as sporting event-industry taxes were once on the table) ponied up for the special election.  So pardon me if I don’t believe your lament that you’ll just be forced to cut state services, when you found room for billions in tax cuts to the largest corporations in America and protected every single industry that could donate money for ads and mailers.  Let’s just say I don’t buy the image of a legislature with their hands tied.

Obligatory Brown/Newsom Past/Future Race To The Governor’s Mansion Post

I’ve been pretty up front in questioning whether or not the next Governor matters compared to the structural reforms needed to get California back on a sustainable course.  Nevertheless, the off-year CDP convention in Sacramento does traditionally kick off the following year’s gubernatorial race, and this year was no different.  Given what we know right now, I think it’s highly probable, actually, that the Democratic primary will feature only two candidates.  Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom were the only two with any visibility whatsoever in Sacramento, and while Antonio Villaraigosa may still feel he can jump in late and capture a healthy share of the Latino vote in any primary, his awkward exit from the festivities does not lead me to believe that he will bother with the race.

If that is the case, we have a virtual mirror-image of the 2008 national Democratic primary, with a candidate positioning himself as looking to the future against a candidate firmly implanted in the past.  That’s the general belief, anyway, and there’s quite a bit of truth to that.  Clearly, Mayor Newsom’s convention speech continually framed the choice for voters as “whether we’re going to move forward in a new direction or whether we’re going to look back.”  Clearly, each candidate has a profile that fits that general mold.  And the general mood of each candidate’s signature event, with Brown lolling at the old Governor’s Mansion with his 1974 blue Plymouth in the driveway, literally an historical set piece, while Newsom closed off a street and held a block party featuring Wyclef Jean (and got what amounts to an endorsement from Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson when he introduced Newsom as “the next Governor of California”), could not have been more different.

And yet Jerry Brown has always been something of a political futurist, someone who was mocked in his time for being unrealistic and silly, on issues which are now firmly in the mainstream of the American political debate.  And as CalBuzz points out, Brown’s presentation to the convention may be closer to the zeitgeist than Newsom’s right now:

While Newsom (a Hillary supporter, BTW) spent the weekend trying to position himself as Obama to Brown’s Clinton, General Jerry delivered a Jim Hightower-like jeremiad to the convention, filled with rips and roars at financial insiders and white collar criminals. In tone and substance it seemed closer to tapping the populist zeitgeist of these financially troubled times than did Newsom’s effort to fight the last war.

Voters fed up with Governor Arnold’s shattered promises to “blow up boxes” and sweep clean the mess in Sacramento may well be in the mood for less “change” and more common sense, which happens to be Brown’s political meme du jour.

Ultimately, I don’t cotton much to these popularity-based views of major elections, preferring to judge on substance.  The primary electorate is older, but that means there’s more potential for increasing turnout among youth, so we’ll see where that leads.  But ultimately, I’m going to judge on the basis of substance, particularly with respect to structural reform.  And while Brown gave a fairly nice speech, highlighting his high-profile work as Attorney General suing the likes of Wells Fargo, in essence he left unanswered the charges that he is an apostle for fantasyland in thinking he can just bring Democrats and Republicans in a room together and get them to work everything out.  On the other hand, Newsom, in a meet and greet with bloggers, came out once again in favor of a Constitutional convention to put all of these contradictory and hobbling budget and governing ideas on the chopping block and work from scratch to figure out a way to organize the state that makes sense.  You can ague with his somewhat rosy picture of his record – as I have – but you cannot argue that he has a forward-looking view of how to finally blow up this insanely dysfunctional structure.

On the near-term issue of the special election, Brown has appeared on stage with Arnold Schwarzenegger to tout the Yes side on all measures, while Newsom has not.  In fact, he expressed his opposition to Props. 1C, 1D and 1E, saying “I can’t get my arms around balancing the budget with lottery money” and that 1D and 1E would raid successful and cost-effective programs.  Now, what I can’t get MY arms around is Newsom’s support for 1A, particularly because he explained that his first instinct was to oppose, but that he “had to be responsible” and look at the impact on city budgets.  However, 1A would provide no budgetary relief for two years, while 1C, 1D and 1E, which he opposes, would.  In clarifying this, Newsom spokesman Eric Jaye explained that the impact on city budgets could be made worse by the bond markets seeing the failure of 1A and raising their interest rates, but there’s definitely a tension there.  Perhaps Newsom thinks that he can fix whatever damage is done by a constitutional convention, but a voter-approved spending cap would be hard to cancel out within a the space of a year or two.

(More on the Newsom blogger meetup in a later post.)

I think there’s room to be critical of both candidates, as well as room to be praiseworthy.  But rather than framing this election along cultural or generational lines, I think it’s necessary to frame it along the policies they would both bring to Sacramento and whether they make sense for progressives to get behind.  So it’s not past vs. future for me so much as success vs. FAIL.

Aftermath Of The Proposition Battle: Listen To The Range Of Debate

Those who followed the proposition thread know the outcome, but in case you need a recap, Big Media’s got your back as well.

Efforts by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders to win voter approval of six budget measures on the May 19 ballot grew more difficult Sunday when a sharply split state Democratic Party declined to back three of them.

The mixed verdict by more than 1,200 delegates to a state party convention came after a nasty floor fight over the grim menu of proposed solutions to California’s severe budget crisis.

“We’ve got all kinds of divisions,” Art Pulaski, leader of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, said of the fractures among unions that drove the party’s internal rift. “It’s not unusual for us.”

Republicans, too, are split on Propositions 1A through 1F. The state Republican Party has broken with Schwarzenegger, its standard-bearer, and begun fighting the measures.

Taken together, the muddled messages from California’s two major parties threaten to fuel the sort of voter confusion that often spells doom for complicated ballot measures.

This is pretty on the money.  There’s a split within both parties, one that Democratic leaders aren’t coming to terms with.  Neither side has taken heed of its grassroots, at least in part.  With the propositions in trouble, we must take an eye to the message that will come out in the aftermath.  The truth is that Democrats have a principled policy difference here, and those legitimate concerns should not be discounted by the leadership in favor of a narrative that voters opposed the ballot because of 2 years’ worth of certain tax increases.  In fact, the word “taxes” was not used once on the floor of the convention by those opposed to 1A or any other measure.  We oppose these measures because we find them deeply harmful to the future functioning of the state.  We believe there’s a better way in the short term, with the majority-vote fee increase, and the long-term, with the end of the conservative veto and a more sustainable course, based on broader-based taxation to pay for the services all Californians desire.  We reject in whole the dumbed-down, simplistic framing that 1A would “reform the budget” and failure would court disaster.

As for the spin that delegates “supported” the measures on the “May 11 ballot” (Steve, you should probably get the date right if you’re working for the Yes side), and a “supermajority quirk in party rules” was used by opponents, I really don’t know what to even say to that.  First of all, the quirk has been on the books for a long time, and it was actually progressives like Dante Atkins who have been working to reform the endorsement process, so welcome to the party.  Next, with fully 1/3 of the delegates electeds and appointeds, most of whom negotiated and supported the deal, and another 1/3 elected by county committees, and another 1/3 grassroots delegates elected at caucuses, a 60% threshold, which again was never argued by these people when it worked for them, represents a fairly broad consensus of all three sectors.  Finally, if you went state by state, I would imagine you would find such a threshold in many if not most state Democratic parties, whereas the 2/3 rule for the budget, to which some are making a false equivalence, only finds parallel in Arkansas and Rhode Island.  I would be all too happy to completely reform the endorsement process and even question its use by the party outright, that would be a fine debate.  But whining about known rules sounds like Hillary Clinton’s staff bemoaning the fact of caucuses in the 2008 primary when they knew the facts for years.  The grapes, they are sour.

Now that the endorsement battle is over and the election just weeks from being done, let’s have a dialogue instead of a lecture, and let’s take the concerns seriously of those who reject the false messiah of a spending cap and raiding important voter-approved initiatives and balancing the budget on the backs of gamblers.  Let’s actually advocate for something rather than being forced to accept something.  Let’s not worry about “what the Republicans will say” and let’s not sniff that “pie in the sky solutions won’t work.”  Let’s reform the state and come out with a government that works.